Capacity & Boundaries

Five years ago, the Schools Committee of the Civic Federation of which I was a member, believed Arlington County’s population projections for declining growth were incorrect. Our projections disagreed — and more accurately described where we are today. Now the County is projecting a leveling off in growth in 5 years, due to a change in the “live birth rate”? I am skeptical.

Change is inevitable.We will never make everyone happy, but we can do better to anticipate and manage that change for our families — and make better use of our budget.

How can we better use existing classroom space? I know that we have gone back to renovate new schools, like W-L,  when we should have explored using all classrooms to full capacity. It would not have made teachers happy — but it would have saved $5M.

Choice programs and neighborhood schools are not incompatible. We may be able to create blended, hybrid solutions to add capacity in our neighborhood schools — and not move families.

We need to explore a lot of options. Obviously, when we need to build in an urban environment, we are already building up.  Let’s not be afraid to explore the unusual. 

Just for discussion:

  • What if we managed enrollment to all our High Schools by lottery?
  • What if we split our ES to create K-3 schools and 4-5 schools to better manage the variations in our population — and to better concentrate resources, like reading teachers, where we need them most?

  • Could use empty office spaces?
I am not endorsing any these ideas at this time. But I believe we can find answers to our capacity problems through creativity and innovation.